First LAN – Manchester Showdown

The Morning of the Event

Preparation for the LAN was coming to an end, Purge and I had spent the majority of the night planning where, when and how we were all going to meet along with plans for the day. Excitement was high knowing this was going to be our Org’s first LAN, but like true gamers, the calling for a quick CS:GO game before we hit the hay loomed over us. So, with the excitement of the Manchester showdown fueling us, that one game turned into many and would be a decision we both would come to regret come morning. We got promoted to the new lofty heights of Master Guardian Elite, yes we know it is a mere shadow of our former days in Call of Duty, but for us the new casual CS:GO players, this was an achievement having ground through the endless matches of toxic, uncoordinated, randomness that is CS:GO’s vanilla competitive matchmaking.

According to the master plan in which Purge and I thought was only second to the Normandy landings in cunning and as bullet proof as US M-4 Sherman tank (can’t you tell we are excited for Battalion 1944 with these puns), this was how the morning should have gone:
We would both wake up around 7 and leisurely prepare for the day with the usual morning routines. I would then set off to meet Purge at his home in Warrington, which was a 45min drive down the road. Whilst driving, Purge would have the pleasure of ironing all our newly acquired LAN shirts (which is a whole other story of fun and drama that we had trying to get the shirts safely from the clutches of his next door neighbour). Once I’d arrived at Purge’s house we would happily set off to the Manchester Showdown with plenty of time to spare.

Well that didn’t happen! We had spent the early hours of the morning gaming rather than getting our much-needed beauty sleep. I woke up feeling rather well rested considering I had only had 4 hours sleep. Casually turning my phone over to check the news or if there was anything of interest I read the time as 8:45am. With a little “ha that’s not right” in my head, in a daze I slowly came to realise that I had overslept by 2 hours through all of my alarms. Flap stations activate!

I shot out of my bed with the speed of a thousand-leaping gazelle, completed my morning routine in a record time that even Usain Bolt would have been proud of. Fortunately for myself, I had had some sense the previous night and set out all my valuables, clothes and necessary items for the journey. Whilst driving towards Purge’s house I realised I would have to go straight to the event and that all attempts to get to his house in time was futile.

I rang Purge to let him know and to my amusement found out I was not the only victim of the detrimental effects of our late-night gaming. As Purge answered the phone, he informed me that he was still ironing the shirts and he too had decided it would be much more entertaining to sleep through his alarms as well. With what I can only imagine to be as much grace as a domestic goddess, he finished ironing the newly obtained LAN Shirts in reasonable time and joined me heading to the Manchester Showdown, probably driving like something close to a scene from the latest GTA game. Thankfully as it was early on a Saturday morning, we made good time.

To my surprise I was actually the first person to the event. I was greeted by the event organizers and found myself in an event room called Belong Manchester. Every gamer’s paradise, snacks, pro gaming gear, and rows of top spec PCs and consoles with live streams of eSports action rolling on the cinema screen. I later had to go and rescue Purge who was wandering around the Trafford Centre, lost in the expanse and distracted by the shiny watches on sale.

Matches and Event

After everyone had arrived, LAN Shirts were distributed, introductions made and we were ready to roll. The team seemed confident and ready to get stuck in once they were settled into their setups.
Our lineup consisted of:

  • Doopz
  • MFZ
  • SweetNothing
  • Exper
  • Crysen

We faced Perilous.RAZE in the first semi-final of the day and after a difficult back and forth at the start of the first game, came out with the victory winning 2-0. Purge and I found this to be a real mix of emotions as this was Augmented Authority’s first LAN and could be the first step in something great. Even though we had been in this situation many times as players, this was a first for us as Org owners/founders. We had full faith in the lineup and knew the odds were in our favor but the sense of helplessness when watching something you are very invested was awful. Purge is an avid football fan and he found it more stressful than watching them play. What a rollercoaster of emotions to start the day, from pride of seeing our Org’s banners streaming at an event to an audience for the first time, the nerves of what if as all of these teams had qualified through online brackets. We felt sheer relief and joy after winning the first game. It might have been a small event but these were all meaningful milestones for Purge and I, as we both have high aspirations for the Org. Every flood starts with a drop after all.

Doopz, our DOTA team captain had the following to say after the games:

‘GAME 1 VS RAZE – I think Raze are a strong team, we had a small idea of what we were going to pick. Our general plan was to ban Ovi’s bat and pick strongish laning heroes and push with our advantage. Everything pretty much went as it should have, the Oracle negating Necro ult was a pain but our lanes were pretty dominant and we were able to take good trades and win the game.’

‘GAME 2 VS RAZE – This game was pretty much an out draft in our opinion, RAZE didn’t draft many stuns which we were able to abuse fairly well. They went with a comfort pick with the tinker but we already had two very good heroes at dealing with it – Essentially we would just pick off the tinker and push straight after’.

With a well earnt win under our belts we were off to lunch, this was the first time we had met all but one of the team so we decided to hit the food court at the Trafford Centre. My weapon of choice was the foot-long meatball from Subway (sponsor? :D) of course. We all had an in-depth chat and ended up talking about the state of the UK scene in many platforms and games. This is something that Purge and I feel needs addressing as we sense the UK scene has lost its way. It seems that if someone mentions a UK player in the majority of games, people think bad manners, rage, ego. Everything that we hate in gaming. This is something that is quite personal to us as we are UK players and we constantly get the barrage of stereotyping or even abuse in some cases from simply being a UK player. This is where we want to step in as an Org and change that perception. We want passionate players who are professional as well, calm when they need to be and let their skill do the talking, not their mouth. Most players agreed that this was affecting the professional pickup of UK players by the top tier Orgs and the negative stereotype can hinder progress. Conversation soon lightened as we were telling stories from past LANs and online games – people going drunkenly missing at LAN, taped to chairs and left in lifts, you know the usual pranks and laughs we got see at some LANs. After lunch and having a proper meet and greet with our team, it was no rest for the wicked. Onto the next game!

So back to the emotional roller coast that is watching your players perform in a LAN final no less! Our nerves were defiantly tested as we went 14-1 down in the first game. This was intense to watch as we knew we didn’t have the power to fight up front but they couldn’t counter our team’s split pushes. With every potential team fight I didn’t have butterflies in my stomach, these were Rhinos with clogs on. It wasn’t helped by the excitement of spilt pushing, I felt like a much-needed lie down would be needed afterwards. Purge and I decided we would rent a couple PC’s out for the day so we could continue doing Org work as the jobs list was and still is ever increasing. This kept us distracted and allowed our heart rate to return to normal rather than that of a humming bird. This worked a treat as before I knew it, we were into game two with a 25k net worth lead. I was grateful for the team’s performance in the second map as I don’t think I could have taken much more. Within a blink of an eye I was looking at a 36-8 Victory. I had my usual chat with Doopz after the game for his take on the games:

‘GAME 1 VS YGTBKM – Game 1 I think we drafted fine but laned badly, I fed a ton on necro but we knew they wouldn’t be able to deal with Furion if the game got late. So, we basically tried to hold the game out until Furion reached critical mass and could carry us. Their 5v5 fight was just so much better than ours and we took some awful fights but luckily whilst it happened we got a lot of split pushing done and won the game.’

‘GAME 2 VS YGTBKM – I felt like we had the much stronger draft in game 2, we knew our mid lane (Lich + Morph) would be pretty dominant as well as our safe lane. After the initial laning phase we already felt so far ahead and just pushed our advantage as best we could – They kinda tilted as well’

So, with this being a first for both Purge and I, we were extremely proud of the guys. It was a bizarre moment when the team collected their medals and winnings, we didn’t think we would be in this position so soon, they had played throughout the online leagues to get to this offline event and won the LAN quite comfortably, a credit to their hard work. This wasn’t exactly a major win, it wasn’t the international, but it was a big tick in the box for the Org and the goals we had set ourselves. We weren’t exactly going to be retiring from the winnings but this had a more sentimental value for the both of us. This Org is something we had thought of 10+ years ago when we ourselves were competing in eSports. This was a goal we had set many years ago, a dream we both had in our teens to own a LAN winning Org. Even back then we felt there was a gap in the market, something we could provide, something we both have a passion for. It was a moment of realization that this was actually happening and filled us both with excitement and a real focus for the future. We know this will be the first of many for us and we have great vision for the Org and our teams. So watch this space and we will see what the future holds for us.